In order for independent schools to thrive in the 21st Century, NAIS believes that they must be sustainable along five dimensions: financial, demographic, programmatic, environmental, and global.
Schools can work toward environmental sustainability by becoming more green, reducing school and personal carbon footprints, promoting a commitment to life-long environmental responsibility, and incorporating environmental education into the curriculum.
NAIS is committed to being a leader, model, and moral force for environmental sustainability in its member schools. The organization’s goals over the next several years are to:
- Advocate for principles of good environmental sustainability practice at independent schools;
- Encourage independent schools to become better stewards of our planet by modeling sustainable behavior and practice;
- Promote the integration of sustainability into a school’s mission, curricula, operations, and relevant activities;
- Provide learning resources and opportunities to support school sustainability efforts; and
- Partner with member schools and associations on sustainability initiatives.
Why is it important for schools to work toward environmental sustainability?
Consider these trends:
- FAMILIES WILL DEMAND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION FROM SCHOOLS.
America is experiencing a rise in ethical consumerism. Like businesses, independent schools may be called to demonstrate in their missions and actions their commitment to social responsibility and environmental sustainability. (National Association of Independent Schools, NAIS Opinion Leaders Survey: Forecasting Independent Education to 2025, 2005.)
- THERE IS VALUE TO THE ENVIRONMENT AND TO EDUCATION OF CHILDREN.
Environmentally sustainable schools not only reduce waste and consumption through recycling, but also educate students about ecology and how to live as environmentally responsible citizens. (National Association of Independent Schools, NAIS Opinion Leaders Survey: Forecasting Independent Education to 2025, 2005.)
- UP-TO-DATE FACILITIES ARE AN ATTRACTION FOR PROSPECTIVE FAMILIES CONCERNED ABOUT SAFETY.
In recent research, parents mentioned buildings and facilities as an element used when judging a school. In particular, the cleanliness, comfort, and up-to-date technologies in school buildings were perceived as strong indicators of the school’s attention to detail and commitment to high quality education. (National Association of Independent Schools, Marketing Independent Schools to Generation X and Minority Parents, 2006.)
What action steps can schools take now?
- Work with leadership to discuss long-term goals for your school in incorporating environmental sensitivity and education into the school’s practices and curriculum.
- Evaluate your curriculum. Are there additional ways to incorporate environmental sensitivity and education into the classroom?
- Evaluate your student activities. Are there other ways to introduce students to environmental studies or sensitivity?
- Evaluate your current and future building projects. Are there feasible ways to incorporate environmentally friendly buildings?
- Evaluate your operational practices (school lunch, etc.). Are there feasible ways to make your practices more environmentally friendly?
Find a plethora of Green Resources (from articles and links to tools to measure carbon footprint) designed to provide general information and pragmatic solutions and suggestions related to environmental sustainability.